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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

General Information

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety.

Healthy people also have rituals, such as checking to see if the stove is off several times before leaving the house. The difference is that people with OCD perform their rituals even though doing so interferes with daily life and they find the repetition distressing. Although most adults with OCD recognize that what they are doing is senseless, some adults and most children may not realize that their behavior is out of the ordinary.


OCD affects about 2.2 million American adults, and the problem can be accompanied by eating disorders, other anxiety disorders, or depression.  It strikes men and women in roughly equal numbers and usually appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.  One-third of adults with OCD develop symptoms as children, and research indicates that OCD might run in families.



Treatment

OCD usually responds well to treatment with certain medications and/or exposure-based
psychotherapy.  For more information about this disorder, please click here.



Information provided by the National Institute of Mental Health.
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